Riding the Light Wave
As our company began work one night on installing a new fire alarm system in the office area of a manufacturing facility, I stepped from a six-foot step ladder onto the top of an eight-foot cubicle partition. To steady myself, I put my hand on one of the two-lamp fluorescent fixtures that was hanging above the office area on chains. The chains must not have been anchored into the ceiling very well because the one I was holding broke free under my weight…and so did every other one in the 100-foot line of lights, one after the other. From my angle it looked like a wave of fixtures laying down gently and in a straight line on the floor. Luckily for me, it so happened this particular line didn't cross any partitions, and the fixtures were only slightly damaged as they fell. After waking up someone from the local electric supply warehouse at 2 a.m. for lamps, we brought in a batch of rolling scaffolds and were able to make things right before the first shift arrived at 7 a.m.
Wire Wound Up
One of the first large jobs I got to run involved pulling four 500 MCM cables and a 1/0 AWG ground into four-inch rigid steel conduit that we'd installed over the course of a three-week job. We used the entire morning to lay out the cable in a zigzag pattern, set up the puller, and plan who would be where during the pull. I even took a little time to school the apprentices on proper make up and how to stagger the cables as they went into the sock. By early afternoon we had about one-third of the cable in the pipe and all was going well when I walked to the feed side of the pull and noticed one of the cables wasn't being used up like the other three. I immediately stopped the pull. It turned out someone had mislabeled one of the other cables and fed both ends into two different conduit openings. Suffice it to say, 500 MCM comes out of four-inch conduit a lot tougher than it goes in.
Illustrations by Clint Metcalf